EAT YOUR FRUITS & VEGGIES
By Luigi Gratton, M.D., M.P.H.
When our mothers told us, “Eat your fruits and veggies,” they were right. They are an essential part of our diet, providing a wide range of vitamins and minerals that serve an array of important functions in the body. Many people, however, are still deficient in their fruit and vegetable intake.
NOT GETTING THE MESSAGE
Over the last several years, the U.S. Department of Health has recommended eating at least five portions of fruits and vegetables a day. Yet, only 1-in-7 achieve this quota. In fact, one-third of American adults eat only two servings of fruits and vegetables a day and are four times more likely to choose a processed snack instead. On any given day, about half the population eats no fruit at all.
A BUSHEL OF REASONS
There is a rainbow of reasons to eat a variety of colors from the produce aisle. Fruits and vegetables are virtually fat free, low in salt and an excellent source of fiber. Some fruits and vegetables, such as carrots and cantaloupe, provide Vitamin A, which maintains eye health and immunity.
Other fruits and vegetables, such as bananas and spinach, contain potassium, which is necessary for proper nerve and muscle functioning. Green vegetables, such as broccoli and asparagus, provide B vitamins, which are necessary for converting food into energy. But all fruits and vegetables contain phytonutrients, the health-promoting components of plants. Scientific studies show that phytonutrients can help protect seven key organs, including the eyes, heart, liver and skin, and they may also serve as antioxidants.
ANTIOXIDANT PROTECT ION
Current research has measured the total antioxidant power of various foods, citing fruits and vegetables at the top of the list. Antioxidants protect our bodies from free radicals that can cause damage to cellular membranes. Antioxidants also boost our immunity, help make our muscles stronger and support bone and skin health.
Since eating the recommended daily servings of antioxidant-rich fruits and vegetables is not always realistic, try supplementing your diet with appropriate products. Herbalife’s Garden 7® dietary supplement protects your health with the powerful phytonutrient and antioxidant benefits found in seven servings of colorful fruits and vegetables. It also supports your body’s vital organs by providing them with key nutrients.
So, try to get in the habit of eating plenty of produce each day. It’s one of the biggest favors you can do for your body.
FRUITS AND VEGETABLES
Add Color to Your Life
By Susan Bowerman, M.S., R.D., C.S.S.D.
Color-coding can be a useful device to introduce diversity into the diet. The different colors are important because the different plant chemicals they represent have different effects on the body. There are two purposes for this classification. First, it is meant to increase the diversity of the plant foods you eat. Second, it groups these according to mechanisms that the phytochemicals in each group provide. By eating regularly from each group, you will obtain a rich group of phytochemicals to help promote good health. And remember not to overdo a good thing: Fruits and vegetables have a lot of nutrients per serving, so always be sure to keep portion size reasonable.
Herbalife’s Garden 7® provides needed amounts of phytonutrients from the 7 color groups of fruits and vegetables and is a great way to ensure that you and your family (yes, even the kids!) are getting what you need on a daily basis.
RIPE FOR THE PICKING
Phytonutrients Take Center Stage
On the cusp of the millennium, researchers are busily uncovering a host of beneficial compounds in plant foods. While these phytonutrients aren’t essential by traditional definitions, they apparently reduce risks of diseases of aging.
For example, the isoflavones in soy products may reduce the risk of heart disease, osteoporosis, and several types of cancer. Certain flavonoids in blueberries may actually reverse nerve cell aging. And a wide array of comp ounds in fruits and vegetables may protect cell components against oxidative damage as well as vitamins C or E.
Indeed, cancer, heart disease, and Alzheimer’s disease may plague the middle-aged and elderly because of our limited knowledge of phytonutrients. Research in this arena, now less than two decades old, may relegate some of today’s ills to the history books—joining scurvy and pellagra.
Phytonutrients have provided the impetus for plant and nutrition scientists to work together because foods will continue to be the primary source of these compounds. While a few visionary plant scientists have improved the nutritional quality of foods, breeders have focused on increasing yields or warding off insects or diseases.
That is changing. Projects have sprouted up to screen germplasm for specific phytonutrients or to find ways to increase or preserve them in cultivated varieties. Following are just a few examples of this new wave:
Genetic engineering has produced tomatoes with up to three times more lycopene—the cancer-preventing red pigment—than normal and a shelf life several weeks longer. Autar K. Mattoo and colleagues at the ARS Vegetable Laboratory in Beltsville, Maryland, inserted a gene that retards plant aging, or senescence, along with a promoter that is triggered by ripening. The engineered tomatoes accumulate more lycopene and other antioxidants during the longer ripening stage. This novel approach should work in other fruits and vegetables.
Tissue culture at the ARS Western Regional Research Center in Albany, California, is producing tomatoes with 10 times more lycopene than store-bought tomatoes. Betty K. Ishida and colleagues grow tomatoes in test tubes kept at cooler temperatures, which triggers certain genes to produce the enzymes that increase lycopene production, she says. She is searching for the specific genes responsible and other ways to activate them.
Environmental and genetic factors also make a difference. Cantaloupes grown at the ARS Subtropical Agricultural Research Center in Weslaco, Texas, differed in beta carotene levels by 500 percent, depending on the soil, the cultivar, and fruit size, says Gene E. Lester. Now Lester and colleagues are embarking on a project to understand the postharvest storage factors, as well as the environmental and genetic factors that affect phytonutrient levels in a variety of fruits and vegetables.
Breeding will be central to putting produce with enhanced phytonutrients on the table. Broccoli is a good source of compounds that may inhibit cancer. But there’s good potential for increasing the crop’s potential anticancer punch. Mark W. Farnham in the ARS Vegetable Research Unit at Charleston, South Carolina, and Jed Fahey at Johns Hopkins University in Baltimore, Maryland, found that the supposed anticancer precursor—glucoraphanin—exhibits a thirtyfold difference in Farnham’s inbred broccoli lines.
Storage can affect phytonutrient levels, says Irwin Goldman of the University of Wisconsin. Onions that have been in cold storage up to 90 days show more antiplatelet activity. This can reduce cardiovascular disease risk by interfering with the clumping of blood platelets—the first stage in clot formation.